An INNER VIEW with Producer, Podcaster, and Production studio owner, Amber Butaud

An INNER VIEW with Producer, Podcaster, and Production studio owner, Amber Butaud

BIO

Amber Butaud is multi-talented. As an executive producer and podcast host, she uses her God-given gifts to inspire and lead others through storytelling. Amber is the founder and owner of 4 The One Studio, which is excelling the film industry in Houston, Texas, and is earning accolades from industry leaders and corporations such as The Beach Boys, Wilson, and Univision. She co-produced UP TV’s first original feature film, “The Life of Me,” and executive produced the feature film “Multiplied,” both set to release in 2024. Amber hosts the weekly video award-winning podcast “Set Life: Inspiring Stories of the Entertainment Industry,” and her passion for uplifting others extends to her production company, No Judgement Media, where she produces films, TV shows, and shorts that impact the culture. Amber’s drive for above-industry standards fuels her mission and has ignited an unstoppable ripple effect to bring meaningful change to the industry. Amber is proud to be part of the leadership team for Influence Women Houston.

INNER VIEW

Kathleen Cooke: What has God recently taught you that has enlarged your faith?

Amber Butaud: God has recently taught me to trust in Him and his timing. All my life, I have been able to see the big picture of God’s vision for my life, and recently, he has been showing me one step at a time and less of the big picture. This is a new level of trust as I am not often sure where I’m going daily, but I have faith that where He is leading me is full of goodness and mercy. I remind myself that when I cannot see the hand of God, I can trust His heart. It has been a new faith journey: trusting the Lord with daily obedience. He has taught me to pray through things when my hopes and dreams don’t reflect my reality. Keep praying. Don’t stop. Keep contending. This season may be difficult, but the unknown is a place of possibility. The two promises from God and His word that I stand on are Jeremiah 29:11-13 and Proverbs 3:5-6.

Kathleen: One of the things that impresses me about your accomplishments is your ability to “just do it.” What have you learned about when to push on and when to pull back when you’re working on a project?

Amber: After a few months in the industry, I learned that there is a time to push and press in. There is also a time to be still and wait on the Lord to reveal what He wants to do through the connections I make daily. I’ve learned to ask God before all my meetings to show me what His ambitions are for the relationship, whether it be a connection, a collaboration, or that it is just a time for me to be the hands and feet of Jesus to others by offering encouragement, praying for them, serving, and helping them. It has been humbling to watch God show up in the most miraculous ways through relationships He has brought my way. This has allowed me to temper the over ambitious, self-driving, achiever personality that I have been given. I surrender my own ways and ambitions by staying in the Word- the Bible and allowing His voice to reign true in my thoughts. His ways are always above my own. I love the scripture in Philippians 2:3-4 “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourselves, Not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”

Kathleen: What’s a leadership lesson that changed everything for you?

Amber: A leadership lesson that truly changed how I lead was to lead from my strengths, not my weaknesses. I took an assessment and studied the teachings of Tom Rath called Strength Finders 2.0. The assessment taught me what my top five strengths were. The whole concept of his teachings is to stay focused on our strengths, and we are five times more productive when we focus on our strengths than when we are trying to fix one weakness. As I studied this, the Lord spoke very clearly and said, “What sets you apart? Is it your weaknesses or your strengths that I’ve given you?” His answer was my strengths. That’s what He has set us apart in and where His power is made perfect in our weaknesses. I learned to lead from my strengths and allow the Lord’s power to be made perfect in my weakness. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, …“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness…”

Kathleen: We influence others daily. What have you learned about influencing others?

Amber: One of the most important things I’ve learned about influence is we can either be a positive influence or a negative influencer. As women, we have the opportunity to make a positive influence in our families, communities, and even in our culture. We are often tempted to sit back and allow someone else to set the pace for the rest of society. Still, there has never been a more important time for us to lead with love and integrity; whether you have the opportunity to be a leader within your neighborhood community, family, business, or even your church, you have the potential to influence others through your words, ideas, and examples. I hope the Lord will light a fire of influence in your heart and encourage you to stand up and step out as an effective leader or influencer. Don’t wait for someone else to carry out the job. God has equipped you as an influencer, so just do it.

An INNER VIEW Part 2 with Expert Industry Negotiator, Victoria Slater

An INNER VIEW Part 2 with Expert Industry Negotiator, Victoria Slater

As creative people, we can be intimidated or even mystified by the gritty “business” parts of the industry. Do you sometimes wonder if you should be negotiating better? Or if you’re getting paid less because of your gender? Expert negotiator and industry executive, Victoria Slater, has given us an INNER VIEW Part 2 with some important insights! We were honored to feature Victoria for an Influence Webinar in 2022, but there were some key questions she didn’t have time to respond to during the webinar. Read below for more expert tips on the art of negotiation in the industry!

Bio
Victoria Slater spent over twenty years in the entertainment industry. Her career took her to foreign lands and negotiating deals on the sets of many feature films and television projects. These include Twentieth Century Fox’s mega blockbuster disaster film VOLCANO, Paramount’s STAR TREK VII: GENERATIONS, and BAYWATCH. She is a Producers Guild of America member, serving on the PGA Board of Directors for nine years, and chaired their Mentoring Program for over seven years. In 2007 Victoria was awarded the prestigious AP Council Commitment Award for her service to the Guild.

 

INNER VIEW

Kathleen Cooke:  Do female writers get the same compensation as their male counterparts? 

Victoria Slater: I don’t think it is so much male vs female but experience and credits. Do you have an agent, and are you willing to negotiate? If you feel you are not getting the same deal as a male counterpart for the same work with the same experience, stand strong and negotiate for better pay and terms.

Kathleen: Why are writers the least recognized when productions cannot happen without them?

Victoria: When work is a set pay, you can be out of the picture once your work is delivered. Someone with a creative vision for your work (producer/director) takes over and often no longer wants your input. It is the nature of the industry. That is why writers often become producers and directors.

Kathleen: What is a good way to negotiate with a name(d) actor to be in an independent film?

Victoria: Tell them the advantage it will be to them. If you don’t have the money for their quote, approach them differently. Is your project one that appeals to them for some other reason, like a cause they champion, helping a friend out, or is it a chance to play a part not normally offered to them? It can be any number of reasons.

Kathleen: How do you respond to biases presented towards women in the negotiation process?

Victoria: This is the whole reason I wrote my book, How to Negotiate Without Freaking Out to help women get over the fear of negotiating. Biases often derive from social norms. Women are often afraid of offending. There are ways to negotiate that are not offensive. Get my book!

 

Want to read Part 1 of Victoria’s INNER VIEW? Click here!

 

Welcome Kelsey Guerra, The New Nashville Coordinator

Welcome Kelsey Guerra, The New Nashville Coordinator

Meet Kelsey Guerra, the new coordinator for Influence Lab Women Nashville!

Bio: Kelsey grew up acting professionally in Hollywood, signing with her first agent at the age of seven. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Theatre Arts from Vanguard University and pursued a Broadway, TV, and Film career in New York upon graduating. Her work eventually brought her back to Hollywood, where she co-founded thisishardtoread Productions and is an award-winning producer, writer, and actor on the award-winning feature comedy/mockumentary film, RE-OPENING.  Favorite career highlights include LIFE PARTNERS (Tribeca & Sundance Film Festival), BLACK NOVEMBERTHE VERONICA MARS MOVIE (Vivica Fox), PAN AM (ABC), ROYAL PAINS (USA), and BAD TEACHER (CBS).

Kathleen Cooke: Tell us about you! What’s your story, and what do you do in the media and entertainment industry?

Kelsey Guerra: I am co-founder of thisishardtoread Productions with my husband, and we create comedies with heart. I’m a producer, writer, director, and actor – not necessarily all at the same time!

Kathleen: How and why have you gotten involved with Influence Lab Women as the new Nashville Chapter Coordinator?

Kelsey: I recently moved to the greater Nashville area from L.A./Hollywood for the main purpose of collaborating with like-minded industry professionals. I was tired of waiting for some “big break” that would never come, and after producing my own feature film during the pandemic, I realized that Hollywood and the industry is so much bigger than the box we put it in, and Nashville was the place where I felt called to create a movement with people who felt the same way. 

Kathleen: When is the Influence Lab Women Nashville launch, and what’s happening?

Kelsey: We are going to start with a small gathering of women at the end of October who are excited to get involved with our mission – to bring women in the industry together who want to encourage, uplift, and empower each other. Let’s get to know each other and bring together others who would like to have a local community of creators and industry professionals.

Reach out to me at: info@influencelab.com if you would like to be a part of the group. Once we have a core group of women, we can expand our reach to others who would also like to join us for a larger launch in January 2023.

Follow Kelsey: 
Website: thisishardtoreadproductions.com
Instagram: @kelseycookeofficial

An INNER VIEW with Destiny Rambo Khouri

An INNER VIEW with Destiny Rambo Khouri

Do you believe your unique voice can impact others? Does your silence or inability to embrace yourself leave a void that God created you to fill? Read this week’s INNER VIEW as Destiny Rambo Khouri shares her personal journey of a stifled voice turned powerful truth-teller.

BIO
Destiny Rambo Khouri is a sought after singer, worship leader, writer, artist, session vocalist, actress, teacher, and choreographer. She’s had a vibrant heritage of music and ministry. Her grandparents, Buck and Dottie Rambo, were pioneers in the Southern Gospel movement, and her parents, Dony McGuire and Reba Rambo were trendsetters in contemporary Christian music. All have received multiple Grammy and Dove Awards.

Destiny began traveling and singing with her parents as a child, but her work extends outside the gospel music realm and into theater. She has performed in dozens of productions and has sung on several original cast albums for Disney Theatrical, Sight And Sound Theater, and many others. Destiny has performed in multiple languages, including a project sung in Mandarin for Sea World Beijing.

In 2012, Destiny and her family’s group, Rambo McGuire, were privileged to win the Dove Award for bluegrass album of the year. In 2013, she released her highly anticipated solo album, Journal of a Songstress, and in 2020, she released a Christmas EP titled Oh Night Divine that was featured in the top 10 lists on iTunes and Amazon Music. Her most recent release was a single entitled Calvary Will Never Run Out Of Songs. She is also the writer and host of her weekly podcast and video series Divine Musing With Destiny Rambo Khouri.

In 2018, Destiny married Joel Khouri, a producer, composer, and writer with hundreds of recording credits. Together they create music and art in exciting and out-of-the-box ways. They are the founders of The Rambo Family Gospel Hour, a quarterly music and ministry event live-streamed worldwide. Destiny and Joel live in Charlotte, North Carolina with their sweet puppy, Nora.

 

INNER VIEW

Kathleen Cooke: A career in the music industry is often daunting. What has God taught you recently that keeps you going?

Destiny Rambo Khouri: God has been teaching me the power of using your voice. I grew up in a household of singers and naturally stepped into that role. I loved to sing but also knew I had a testimony to share. As a young girl, I survived multiple sexual assaults and physical abuse. I felt such a pull to share my story in a way that could be a lifeline for others. At that time though, there was such an atmosphere of suppression and secrecy surrounding trauma. Therapy was almost a curse word, and the overall narrative was to “walk by faith” by keeping the darkness you struggled with to yourself.

I felt like the Lord was calling me to begin a weekly series that would be a safe place to discuss faith, trauma, art, and story. I was young and excited and started to tell people I respected my idea, thinking they would be supportive. Instead, I met one shutdown after another. They said to me that no one wanted to hear me talk. That I was a singer and just needed to stick to that. They also strongly discouraged my testimony, like it was going to reflect poorly on my family’s ministry. I was crushed and sadly believed them. I continued to sing but kept my story to myself.

In the last couple of years, Divine has done profound work to remove the shackles from my tongue. In February, I launched “Divine Musing With Destiny Rambo Khouri.” Each episode focuses on a singular topic and the growth journey it’s led me on. I have been blown away by the response in such a short time! I realize now more than ever that people want something real.

Your voice is one of the greatest gifts Divine has given you, and you shouldn’t be afraid to use it! Scripture says that we are overcome by the blood of the Lamb AND by the word of our testimony. Your story might be the hope someone needs to believe that survival, healing, and restoration are possible!

Kathleen: Wow, Destiny! Thanks for being brave and sharing that. What would you say to someone in a dark place right now who needs hope?

Destiny: In the craziness of life today, it is easy to get drained. The expectations we all have weighing on us every day can get so heavy that before we know it, we are being crushed beneath them. Finding time to center my thoughts, spirit, soul, and body is not only important; it’s vital. How can I give of myself when I’m running on empty?

When I feel myself beginning to be depleted, I have found a few things that help me recharge. The first thing is a hot bath. There is something about soaking for a bit that allows me to wind down my mind and re-center my body. Sometimes I soak in silence; other times, I will listen to an encouraging podcast, or I’ll put on calming music. I am particularly fond of pianists like Dustin O’Halloran and Chad Lawson.

I am also an avid reader. When I seek the comfort of scripture, as opposed to studying, I love “The Message” translation. It reads like poetry and is so soothing. I regularly revisit the Psalms, The Gospels, and my favorite of Paul’s writings, Colossians. I love all kinds of books, but especially those that play with my imagination. My go-to author is Madeleine L’Engle because even her works of fiction shed light on spiritual principles. Another way I like to feel inspired is by watching nature or historical documentaries. Taking in the beauty of God’s creation or learning about where we come from gives me so much hope.

And last but certainly not least, I find so much inspiration in our garden. My husband Joel and I plant lots of vegetables and herbs every year, and it’s a beautiful way to connect with Divine and with each other. There’s nothing like getting your hands dirty to help remind yourself of life’s simple wonders.

Kathleen: Finding peace and contentment is what we long for, but is hard to attain. What has God taught you about overcoming our culture that’s constantly telling us we aren’t enough?

Destiny: Everywhere we turn nowadays, advertisements tell us what we need or who we need to be. The pressure to buy into those things is dangerously heavy. That pressure is fed by comparison. We see the life people present on social media and covet their seemingly perfect existence and then spiral into mourning that we will never have what they have. The world around us has almost become a “funhouse” full of warped mirrors that cause us to see ourselves as anything but “fearfully and wonderfully made.” I have struggled my whole life with insecurities about my weight, talent, and what I have to offer the world. The mirror of comparison is unrelenting as it fights to destroy me.

 A couple of years ago, I had just taken a shower, looked at myself in the mirror, and began beating myself up over every flaw I saw. The added pounds, the imperfections, and the fact I look very different from most women in ministry, covered in tattoos and scars. I went at it for a while until I erupted in tears. In the midst of my breakdown, I heard the voice of Divine so sweetly say to me, “I looked into the whole world and saw that something was missing, and I created you to fill that void.” Wow! How could I continue to beat myself up after that! Am I perfect? No way! But Divine didn’t create me to be perfect. He created me to be that missing piece! Look, I’m a woman, so naturally, those struggles still come up from time to time, but I have learned how to silence those negative thoughts by reminding myself who He made me to be!

Kathleen: The Bible tells us to be a “sweet aroma” – in our language today, “influencer” comes to mind. How can we bring the fragrance of Jesus into our work and life? 

Destiny: One of my absolute favorite scriptures is 2 Corinthians 2:14-15, “But thank God! He has made us His captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now He uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume (aroma). Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God.”

Jesus was the perfect example of what a life of influence should be. Even though He was born into humanity, He carried the atmosphere of Heaven with Him. That atmosphere radiated from His pores and impacted the lives of all who came into contact with Him. As believers who are alive to the reality of Christ in us, we have that same ability! We are the light that radiates His light. We are the beacon that pierces through the fog and lights the way home. We are the perpetual fragrance of Christ that should smell so delicious that lost and hurting people can’t help but be curious. Jesus met people where they were without judgment or condemnation and, through His perfect love, transformed them. I believe it is our responsibility to do the same. To me, influence means reaching people no matter where they are, what they’ve done, or where they’ve been. Only through the love of Jesus have we made it this far. The more we are willing to share that love, the greater the chance we then have to be a witness to the world. My greatest prayer surrounding the spaces I have been privileged to “influence” is that those sweet people walk away from our encounter feeling seen, known, loved, and always enough!

 

Connect with Destiny:

Website: www.rambokhouri.com
YouTube: RamboKhouri
Facebook: Destiny Rambo Khouri
Instagram & Twitter: DesRamboMusic
New weekly episodes of “Divine Musing With Destiny Rambo Khouri” are available on Mondays on YouTube and most major podcast platforms.
Music by Destiny Rambo Khouri is available in all digital stores.

Meet Anna Oakley Atlanta’s New Influence Lab Coordinator

Meet Anna Oakley Atlanta’s New Influence Lab Coordinator

We’re growing! Influence Lab Women is expanding into the hub of film and television production in Atlanta. “Hollywood and New York are no longer the only epicenters of media production,” shares Kathleen Cooke. “Influence Lab Women is thrilled to introduce you to the new Atlanta Influence Lab coordinator, Anna Oakley.”

The kick-off of the Atlanta group will be an in-person watch party of the Influence Lab Women’s online event featuring guest Cindy Bond, producer of “Redeeming Love” and the box-office hit, “I Can Only Imagine.” If you live in the Atlanta area, sign up here to join us for this event. (Not in Atlanta? Sign up here for the free webinar.)

And now, meet Anna Oakley…

Hi! My name is Anna Elizabeth Oakley, and I’m an actor, puppeteer, and children’s coach living in what has come to be known as the “Hollywood of the South” – Atlanta, Georgia. In December 2021, I journeyed to LA to hear actress and producer Jessica Oyelowo speak at The Influence Lab Women’s Christmas Gathering. I didn’t know anything about The Influence Lab and little did I know what God truly had in store for me that night. After a long desert season of almost two years due to the pandemic, the gathering blew me away and filled my soul. It was not only an evening filled with new connections, friendships, and empowering prayer but of being strengthened and mentored in faith and career excellence. I was inspired to press on and into what and where God had purposed for my life.

My immediate question when I met Kathleen was, have you thought of bringing this to Atlanta?

It turns out she had! The Influence Lab team had been praying about expanding into Atlanta. They, too, knew that Atlanta had grown into a strong industry community and had become a major hub for TV and film production. The Influence Lab had felt an urgency to expand, encourage and empower professionals there. But how? It was a matter of God’s timing. That night I felt God tapping me on the shoulder and calling me into action. (more…)